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Happy belated Harvey Milk Day

A Commentary

Timothy Kincaid

May 23rd, 2012

Somehow I went all day yesterday without realizing that it was Harvey Milk Day. Of course, I didn’t care in the slightest. I have no idea what emotion Harvey Milk Day is supposed to stir in me, how I’m supposed to observe it, or what possible benefit it has on anyone.

Last evening I was out at Eleven, a gay club in West Hollywood that has a trivia night on Tuesdays which I sometimes enjoy. There was no Harvey Milk Day signage – in the club or anywhere on the strip. No one mentioned Harvey Milk Day. No rallies. No banners. Even the stores I passed had no “get your Harvey Milk Day T-Shirts here” posters. I dare say that virtually no one knew or cared that it was Harvey Milk Day.

But I do know why it exists.

It’s because Assemblyman Mark Leno and Equality California needed some pointless stupid bill to support to prove that they were desperately ‘fighting for our community’ (please send money). And it gave anti-gay Republicans a chance to continue their fight against ‘the homosexual agenda that is taking over our schools’ (please send money).

My favorite over-the-top absurdity was

Anti-LGBT activists are also going after the Harvey Milk Day bill and have made stopping it a major priority. They want to erase LGBT people from history and from California.

But, whew, we fought them back and now we have Harvey Milk Day!!! Don’t you just feel less erased? If so, don’t worry, you still have time to send money.

Comments

Priya Lynn
May 23rd, 2012 | LINK

I get the impression you hate Harvey Milk. Do you hate Harvey Milk?

If you think there is no point to Harvey Milk day, what is the point of your complaining about it?

Timothy Kincaid
May 23rd, 2012 | LINK

Priya Lynn,

It’s duck season

Priya Lynn
May 23rd, 2012 | LINK

So, in other words you’re complaining for the sake of complaining.

typical
May 23rd, 2012 | LINK

maybe you should take another break

Lindoro Almaviva
May 23rd, 2012 | LINK

If you don’t care for Harvey milk day, don’t comment on it. If you want to make a commentary on how some elements of the gay community have taken on Harvey Milk and you feel that they used him as a pawn and believe he would not be happy with it, then talk about it.

Crapping on both Harvey Milk day and the people who brought it to existence is quite petty. You deserve better, we deserve better

Timothy Kincaid
May 23rd, 2012 | LINK

No, Lindoro,

We deserve better than being manipulated and used to advance someone’s political career. We deserve better than being pawns in someone’s Culture War.

Ben Mathis
May 23rd, 2012 | LINK

Not understanding why someone needs visible people like them is the height of privilege. And you are quite blind to it as you’ve proven.

Having visible GLBT people, days, history, etc is absolutely vital to mental health of GLBT of all stripes, even if rich white conservative gays don’t realize it.

That someone might have used it for political gain does not remove it’s usefulness.

I’d love to hear you answer honestly if you think there is a need for black history month, I have a feeling I know the answer.

Priya Lynn
May 23rd, 2012 | LINK

Timothy said “We deserve better than being manipulated and used to advance someone’s political career. We deserve better than being pawns in someone’s Culture War.”.

Oh, I see, LGBTs have no stake in the culture war – gotcha.

There’s no manipulation here. Manipulation is when you use the dishonest idea that “to be silent is to condone Worley’s position” in order to coerce people into doing what you want:

http://www.boxturtlebulletin.com/2012/05/22/44779#comment-124217

Bose in St Peter MN
May 23rd, 2012 | LINK

Hey Timothy… I respect your sincerity.

I had exactly the same experience, as far as no t-shirts, no signage, no rallies, no banners for Harvey Milk Day.

But here in my Minnesota town, where I know gay youth and young adults personally, and that they generally have much more support than I did in the late 70s, I see that the kids who care about Harvey Milk Day in CA won’t care about the political cravenness that was required to create it.

Political forces, no matter how messy, end up moving things in positive directions once in a while.

I’m OK with that.

Neon Genesis
May 23rd, 2012 | LINK

You might as well ask why we have Martin Luther King Day and how it’s a political ploy to use blacks for an evil anti-black agenda or something.

Palmer
May 23rd, 2012 | LINK

Was there any point to this diatribe other than spite and bitchiness?

Is there a single gay person (other than yourself) who you think has accomplished anything worthy of not being sneered at by you?

Bruce
May 23rd, 2012 | LINK

I’m a regular BTB reader, and have been since I was a 16-year old high school student just getting into this whole “gay” thing. Occasionally, however, articles like this convince me to drop BTB and go read something else. Negativity in the right place is necessary. This goes significantly beyond that point.

Russell Warren
May 23rd, 2012 | LINK

My, oh, my! Snarkier than usual! And here I thought you needed a break recently. Time off to recharge the snarkometer?

Neon Genesis
May 23rd, 2012 | LINK

“I get the impression you hate Harvey Milk. Do you hate Harvey Milk?”

Of course. He’s a gay Democrat after all.

michael
May 24th, 2012 | LINK

@Bruce I’m in the exact same boat as you! This and the constant stream of typos and small errors make me reconsider this website.

Also, I don’t appreciate how condescending Timothy is to Priya Lynn all the time–I often find PL insightful and interesting, while Timothy’s responses to PL are completely unprofessional and unfunny. If you don’t feel someone’s comment worthy of a thoughtful response, then just don’t respond.

As for the substance of the matter, we deserve holidays and days of remembrances just like any other minority group does. And if you don’t like it, nobody is forcing you to put up a Harvey Milk tree—nor are they forcing you to donate money to any campaign. And if it helps some people see gays in a new light, that’s a good thing.

Palmer
May 24th, 2012 | LINK

Perhaps Timothy would be happier with a Roy Cohen holiday. He could sanctimoniously tell us how we’ve misunderstood Roy all these years. Oh, that’s right, Cohen was Jewish. Never mind!

Palmer
May 24th, 2012 | LINK

Oops, my bad, I misspelt Cohen, it’s Cohn, don’t want to provide a target for snarkiness.

Ben Mathis
May 24th, 2012 | LINK

Michael: “As for the substance of the matter, we deserve holidays and days of remembrances just like any other minority group does. And if you don’t like it, nobody is forcing you to put up a Harvey Milk tree—nor are they forcing you to donate money to any campaign. And if it helps some people see gays in a new light, that’s a good thing.”

I gotta be honest, I want a Harvey Milk tree now. I’m thinking it would be rainbow colored and maybe have a leather wrapped base?

Donny D.
May 24th, 2012 | LINK

To be honest, Timothy, this just looks like something someone would write to stir up controversy.

And really, why shouldn’t there be a day for an important figure in our movement?

Timothy Kincaid
May 24th, 2012 | LINK

For the furious, I have thee suggestions:

1. Read the commentary, not the comments. If you thought this was about my opinions on Harvey Milk, my views of MLK, my thoughts on whether gay people should be honored, or gay Democrats, then you didn’t really read the commentary.

2. If having read the commentary, you still are furious, ask yourself exactly what it was that you did on Tuesday in celebration of Harvey Milk Day. It’s a bit insincere to insist that it’s a Valuable and Needed recognition if you had no idea that it was Tuesday either.

3. If you’re still angry, don’t read what I write. By now, regular readers know that I am not a parrot. I’m not going to say happy words about everything that some self-serving gay ppolitician proposes. I’m not going to accuse every Republican of being a H8ter and a Nazi. I don’t consider every gay Republican to be a kapo. If you need all of that to keep your blood pressure steady, don’t read me.

It’s really quite simple, my name is at the top of every piece I write. And the controversial articles – the ones that step outside of the Official Gay Position are all marked “A Commentary”.

But don’t expect me to suddenly decide that Equality California’s pathetic efforts to apply last decade’s politics to this decade’s reality (which is what the whole bogus Harvey Milk Day “controversy” was about) must be supported. C’mon. You know I care too much to let us wander too far down the path of stupidity

And besides, you really don’t want me just to repeat the platitudes that see the world through the black and white lens of partisan, ideological purity, partisan supremacy, camp based, culture war mentality. That would be boring as hell.

Timothy Kincaid
May 24th, 2012 | LINK

And to Priya Lynn:

See, I told you that you should write your own blog. You already have a loyal fan base.

jpeckjr
May 24th, 2012 | LINK

Timothy, you are just wrong about our having no need for Harvey Milk Day.

We live in a time when history is devalued. As this blog reminds us daily, things happened for and against GLBT people before we were born. Remembering their courage is a way to give us courage now.

We had a Harvey Milk Day observance where I live in the northern part of the Central Valley. Our openly gay city council member spoke about how Harvey Milk had inspired him to seek public office.

Timothy Kincaid
May 24th, 2012 | LINK

Jpeckjr

Thank you for a comment that addressed the content of the commentary. I don’t agree that we need such a day, but your response was a valid argument for your position and included evidence in favor of your views.

That is dialogue. Thanks

jpeckjr
May 24th, 2012 | LINK

You’re welcome. I have one more burning question, though . . .

How did you do in the trivia contest?

Hardly seems worth going if you didn’t win . . .

Priya Lynn
May 24th, 2012 | LINK

Thanks for the support, Michael.

Priya Lynn
May 24th, 2012 | LINK

Timothy said “And to Priya Lynn: See, I told you that you should write your own blog. You already have a loyal fan base.”.

When David Roberts suggested the same thing to you, you said “As for your counsel that I go mutter to myself out of the public eye, I can only say that I am delighted that I ignored such advice the last time it was offered and will do the same again.”.

What’s not sauce for the gander is not sauce for the goose either.

Jay Jonson
May 24th, 2012 | LINK

I think Timothy Kincaid needs another couple of weeks off. Really disgusting to read such nonsense. I don’t think I’ll be returning. But I’d suggest that BTB identify the authors of the blogs in the table of contents so we can know to avoid anything written by Kincaid.

Reed
May 24th, 2012 | LINK

Actually, anti-gay activists ARE gathering signatures to stop implementation of the FAIR Act, which would put the kibosh on queer inclusion in school curriculum.

So, yes, I do care about the day. I don’t think it was created just from political manipulation by the loathed Equality California.

And I think that it is “needed.” Our PFLAG’s second most-attended event for the past three years has been a Harvey Milk Day “special event.” This year, we screened “The Times of Harvey Milk.”

As concerns your bitchiness, negativity, and persistent contrarian commentaries, I’ve come to view them as status quo. Every publication or organization needs one devil’s advocate, and you’re it.

You’re definitely not a parrot. You’re the editorial equivalent of a “concern troll.” And the world, from your WeHo perspective, is all the better for having your in it as an example for others.

Mark F.
May 24th, 2012 | LINK

There is really no more the California legislature can do for gay/lesbian/bi/transexual people besides “declare” holidays.

They have passed the entire “gay agenda” save for marriage, which is now out of their hands.

Timothy Kincaid
May 24th, 2012 | LINK

Jay,

If you read the full site (as opposed to the mobile site), every commentary lists the author. Additionally, if they are opinion pieces they also say “A Commentary”. As I said above, I invite those who are offended by my opinions to avoid reading what I write.

Timothy Kincaid
May 24th, 2012 | LINK

jpeckjr

The competition is by team. I don’t make it every week but our team always has someone there.

For a while we did very well and always placed. But lately not so well. I’m not all that much of a contribution as many of the questions are pop-culture and entertainment related, and my knowledge in that area isn’t very specialized. But occasionally they’ll ask a history, politics, or religion question and I can help the team.

I missed the first 40 minutes on Tuesday and we were way behind before I got there. We came in 5th I think. But while it’s fun to win, the challenge and the time spent with friends is the reason I go.

JB
May 24th, 2012 | LINK

Thanks, Timothy, for once again making me rethink a position. Your best argument, methinks, is actually from a line in the comments about “apply[ing] last decade’s politics to this decade’s reality.” I do resonate with the public visibility/LGBT history arguments, but I do wonder if a Harvey Milk Day is the best way to accomplish those ends. Do you see these as valid goals, and if so, alternatives would you propose?

For what it’s worth, though, I do wish you would be clearer about what you want to promote through these kinds of commentaries. If it’s dialogue, as you suggest in an earlier comment, then I think your pieces could stand to be more moderate and respectful; calling an idea “bogus” suggests that it has so little merit that it’s not worth dialoguing about. Satire and sacrcasm have their place, of course, but I don’t think they’re the best ways to encourage dialogue. They usually invite responses in the same kind of tone, as most of the comments on this thread illustrate. At least that’s the way I see it.

And, while I’m telling you how to write your columns, I do find the “I have to save these liberals from their errors” attitude offputting. I mean things like, “You know I care too much to let us wander too far down the path of stupidity.” I really do need dialogue partners from other perspectives. I don’t need a savior. ;)

Timothy Kincaid
May 24th, 2012 | LINK

JB,

You mean I can’t guide you into seeing the error of your thinking? Oh drats!! I guess I should return the cross and the spikes (but I may keep the robe, it’s kinda flattering).

:)

Maybe I could have said, “You know I care too much not to object if I think we’re going in a direction that I believe doesn’t work to our advantage.”

But I think I should spend some time and thought into formulating a posting about what I think the role of gay advocacy groups should be once we accomplish our goals.

JB
May 24th, 2012 | LINK

That’s a post I’d love to read!

Neon Genesis
May 24th, 2012 | LINK

“2. If having read the commentary, you still are furious, ask yourself exactly what it was that you did on Tuesday in celebration of Harvey Milk Day. It’s a bit insincere to insist that it’s a Valuable and Needed recognition if you had no idea that it was Tuesday either.”

It’s one thing to complain about the uselessness of a holiday. It’s another thing to claim it’s all a giant conspiracy by the evil liberal Californians to use gays in their sinister plot. The former is a reasonable observation. You could even make an argument that all holidays are utterly worthless. The latter makes you look like a conspiracy theorist when you have nothing to back it up other than your own personal feelings about the day. And Timothy, you do have a rather obvious anti-Democrat/pro-Republican bias. I’m willing to admit my own biases. You should at least admit yours and not pretend you’re the only one being objective here.

Timothy Kincaid
May 24th, 2012 | LINK

It’s another thing to claim it’s all a giant conspiracy by the evil liberal Californians to use gays in their sinister plot.

Yes, indeed, that would have been a different thing.

Priya Lynn
May 24th, 2012 | LINK

Timothy previously said “We deserve better than being manipulated and used to advance someone’s political career. We deserve better than being pawns in someone’s Culture War.”

Désirée
May 25th, 2012 | LINK

I realize this piece is “a commentary” but I’m not really sure what it’s a commentary about. You don’t like Harvey Milk day because… I’m not really sure. I get the impression its because a gay Democrat had something to do with it and it’s not “real” progress for gay people. It was a token acknowledgement that some dead gay guy did something that maybe should be remembered. And that gay Dem did this to score points against evil Republicans. Thus, gay Republicans should hate HM day because it is useless and was used to score points.

Do I have that right? If you really meant something else, then it’s not clear in your “commentary” (which was more a bitchy rant than a “commentary” which is to say, I saw no actual facts or evidence that Harvey Milk day in and of itself is a bad thing)

Donny D.
May 25th, 2012 | LINK

I think Desiree’s comment just above is quite well put. And it basically represents what I think is true of Timothy’s post-Harvey Milk Day article.

Timothy Kincaid
May 25th, 2012 | LINK

Desiree,

No, you do not have it right. (Read again what I wrote without what others have written about what I wrote.

My objection is not to the holiday. My objection is to the political manipulation for which it was proposed.

This is the real issue: the California legislature has passed all that we have asked for (except marriage which they cannot enact).

What do you do when all your goals are accomplished? Do you celebrate? Do you fold up tent? Do you work on repairing relationships with those who you defeated and eventually bring them into the fold?

Equality California opted to create new goals – new controversies – so that they could continued the battle. In some cases, it seems like the only objective is to insult, offend, and alienate political opponents.

I think that hurts our community.

Sure it helps EQCA and it helps Republicans (who also get money and votes for continuing the battle), but it doesn’t help us.

And the worst part is that when we run out of equality issues, then the only thing left is to insist on preferential treatment.

HMD is not exactly “preferential treatment” but it dances in that direction. Let’s keep our eyes open as we go forward lest we fulfill the fears and accusations of our opponents.

Currently, “we” are insisting that

a) education include positive portrayals of gay people. Their orientation is important to mention and, if there aren’t any who would be included otherwise, some must be found. In other words, they are to be positively portrayed because they were gay. However, there are to be no negative portrayals of people because they were gay.

b) therapy designed to change orientation be banned. The language of the bill is so poorly crafted that the California Psychological Association is speaking out against it. This is not slowing down “our” advocates.

Whatever one thinks about these pieces of legislation, they are not exactly matters of equality that our community is crying out for.

And, which boils my blood, when opponents object to legislation mandating positive portrayals of what they think of as “the homosexual agenda” in public schools, our side calls them the vilest of terms and accuses them of everything up to genocide.

This is about the least gracious victory that I can imagine.

Neon Genesis
May 26th, 2012 | LINK

I don’t see why banning therapy to change a person’s sexual orientation is any worse than the government regulating other highly controversial psychological practices like electroshock therapy. I know this is a really hard concept for some Christians to understand, but freedom of religion doesn’t mean you have the freedom to use your authority to abuse other people just because you think the creator of the universe’s greatest concern is what people do with their naughty bits.

Palmer
May 27th, 2012 | LINK

No, Desiree got it exactly right.

Timothy Kincaid
May 29th, 2012 | LINK

I actually do know more about the intentions of my own commentary than either you or Desiree.

And I don’t much like being called a liar.

Palmer
May 29th, 2012 | LINK

You may have intended differently, but your writing came out EXACTLY as Desiree said it did, waffling and snobby. If you can’t see it that’s your problem. When the majority of people “misunderstand” what you’ve written, maybe the fault is YOURS, and not ours.

Désirée
May 29th, 2012 | LINK

sorry Timothy, I still hold to my initial post. You clarified in your response but your initial post was a bitchy rant, not a commentary.

OK, lemme see if I get it now: you don’t like HMD because you think some Dems used it just to create opposition from Republicans to make Republicans look bad and to generate extra cash for their side.

So there was no actual good intentions in its creation. It was an evil scheme to perpetuate a lib vs. con culture war. Got it.

Timothy Kincaid
May 29th, 2012 | LINK

Desiree,

Please point out where I said the following:

a) I don’t like HMD

b) the organization that sponsored the legislation is Democratic

c) I think they used it to make Republicans look bad

d) I think it was an evil scheme

If you review my commentary, you will realize that all of those positions are your own creation based on what you imagine that I believe.

I don’t care in the slightest if you think my commentary was “a bitchy rant”. I do care if you mischaracterize what it says and attribute views to me that I neither have stated or hold. I deserve an apology.

I’m waiting.

Priya Lynn
May 29th, 2012 | LINK

Timothy said “Please point out where I said the following:

a) I don’t like HMD

b) the organization that sponsored the legislation is Democratic

c) I think they used it to make Republicans look bad

d) I think it was an evil scheme.”.

You can disingenously fall back on “I never used those exact words.”, but those are reasonable paraphrases of what you did say.

Palmer
May 29th, 2012 | LINK

We’re not “Christian” so Timothy doesn’t have to pay attention to what we have to say.

Your writing is verbose. Instead of being “clever” try being succinct. Then maybe there won’t be any “misrepresentations” of your views, such as they are.

Neon Genesis
May 29th, 2012 | LINK

“Please point out where I said the following:

a) I don’t like HMD

b) the organization that sponsored the legislation is Democratic

c) I think they used it to make Republicans look bad

d) I think it was an evil scheme”

You said, and I quote: “We deserve better than being manipulated and used to advance someone’s political career. We deserve better than being pawns in someone’s Culture War.”

Timothy Kincaid
May 29th, 2012 | LINK

Neon Genesis,

Yes. I said that we deserve better than being manipulated and used to advance someone’s political career.

Please share with me how that relates to any of the following:

a) I don’t like HMD

b) the organization that sponsored the legislation is Democratic

c) I think they used it to make Republicans look bad

d) I think it was an evil scheme

After you (or Desiree) responds, I will address those specific points (although it remains a mystery to me how anyone got there) and then close the thread. So if anyone really really needed to get their views heard they’d best hurry.

Palmer
May 29th, 2012 | LINK

“Boo-Hoo, you didn’t lap up everything I wrote and I wanted an echo chamber, so I’m shutting it all down. So there!”

Timothy Kincaid
May 29th, 2012 | LINK

To answer the specific uncertainties about my opinions:

Whether I like or dislike Harvey Milk Day

As I said when I first raised this issue last October:

Harvey Milk Day is unnecessary. It does nothing, it mandates nothing, it impacts nothing. But at least it is benign. There isn’t much harm in naming a day after someone, even if the motivations were an example of politics at its most cynical.

My objections have never been about Harvey Milk or having a day named after him.

Milk was neither a saint nor a villain. I suppose he was less loyal than he could have been and he bungled the way he switched his vote on Dan White’s bill. But he was also a politician whom I admire for putting his goals ahead of partisanship and for his ability to work with and see the good in even those whom the community viewed as enemies. A net positive, but no idol worship.

As for observing the day, I could in time either grow to like or dislike the holiday. If it becomes inclusive and welcoming of non-gay people (like Pride is in many communities or perhaps akin to a St. Patricks Day or Cinco de Mayo) then I’ll probably like it.*

Evil Scheme

No, HMD is not the result of an “evil scheme”. It’s the result of cynical politicians doing what cynical politicians do: pander, grandstand, and create non-issues to separate them from the other party so they don’t have to address real issues or differences. And yes, both parties participated.

And no one was more cynical than Equality California. They knew that if they came up with something to champion (even something as meaningless and unessential as Harvey Milk Day), they could get a certain percentage our community fired up fight the Culture War that funds their salaries.

Partisanship

Was this an effort by Democrats to make Republicans look bad? Not more than any other bill. I don’t really object to the Democratic majority for voting for it.

But I do object to Equality California for creating a non-issue and then using it in a cynical ploy for funds. (And, by the way, Equality California is – at least nominally – a non-partisan organization).

And I object to the anti-gay activists for using it in exactly the same way.

And I object to our community being so gullible that we fall for this crap repeatedly. And I really hope we don’t have to go through this the next time some unnecessary proposal is trotted out.

Okay, if you still don’t get where I’m coming from, then clearly I’ve failed to communicate (or you’re determined not to understand). But in either case, I plan on stopping comments on this thread in the next hour or thereabouts. I simply don’t have the time to read and respond beyond that.


* although I’m not exactly sure that I want it to turn into the night the straight clubs offer discounts if drunk straight girls make out with each other.